The Skinny Jump programme, providing free modems and affordable internet access, is back at Hutt City Libraries this month following the Covid-19 lockdown
Customers can visit any of the eight libraries and community hubs throughout the city to receive a free modem, plus advice on setting up their equipment and getting online.
Skinny Jump modems provide internet service to people and families who do not already have a broadband connection at home due to cost being a barrier. The plan costs $5 a month for 30GB, which can be topped up a maximum of five times a month. There are no credit checks, no contracts, and no special cabling – all customers need is a power source.
Hutt City Libraries was one of the first library services in New Zealand to offer Skinny Jump modems to its customers, starting in 2016.
The programme also kept library customers connected throughout lockdown.
During Alert Levels 4 and 3 Hutt City Libraries staff helped more than 90 households across Lower Hutt get online, as well as assisting many others across the region in areas such as Kāpiti, Porirua, Johnsonville, the Wairarapa, Levin; and further afield in Blenheim, Franz Joseph Glacier and beyond.
Whether staying in touch with family, joining school lessons via Zoom or accessing entertainment and information, being online was critical for families, businesses and individuals navigating life under lockdown.
On Anzac Day, Hutt City Libraries Programme Development Manager Lillian Pak took a call from Barbara Bergin in the UK, to arrange a modem for a family member living in Lower Hutt.
“After trying for a long time to find a way for my sister to be able to afford to be ‘connected’, I searched for digital inclusion NZ,” said Barbara.
I realised I was not alone in thinking it was only right everyone in New Zealand (and the world) had the opportunity to be ‘digitally alive’. Being online should not depend on wealth and income, as it is so integral to education and so mixed up with everything we do.
“I stumbled upon Skinny Jump, and thought it was too good to be true; but I called the Hutt City Libraries contact and amazingly Lillian got back to me in the UK and completely understood.
“I expected to have to go through hoops but she said ‘I get it. Your sister will get her Skinny Jump modem this week. No problem.’
“That was the Saturday and it arrived on the Thursday following – all during a pandemic!”
The total number of Skinny Jump applications made across New Zealand during the countries’ six weeks of lockdown was more than 3300.
Lillian says: “It’s an honour to be able to serve our communities this way. Internet access is a basic human need in this modern world, especially in these circumstances. So much is online: news, information, employment, government agencies, connecting with others, grocery shopping, entertainment, etc. Without the internet you can end up being totally isolated. I’m very proud to be working for a public library that supports its communities, bridges the digital divide and improves equity.”
Skinny Jump modems are designed to be straightforward to set up and use.
Receiving the modem and setting it up was really easy,” said Ana, another Lower Hutt customer. “I am now connected to the rest of the world – and my daughter too. Thank you Skinny, and thank you Hutt City Libraries.
There is also support for people who are not as confident with technology.
Mel, another Lower Hutt customer said: “Being on low income I had never brought a modem, due to both the cost involved and the worry I wouldn’t be able to set it up. Not only did I get a free Skinny Jump modem but Hutt City Libraries staff gave me step-by-step instructions to get me started. With data only costing $5 for 30GB, the price no longer restricts my ability to stay connected with friends, family and co-workers. I would definitely recommend Skinny Jump!”
If you know family or friends who could do with a hand, please invite them to pop in to their local library and speak to a member of staff.
Visit the Skinny website for more information: skinny.co.nz/jump/about.